While most rookies would have been doing burnouts along the frontstretch after clinching the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title, a sullen Drew Herring slipped from his machine following the Black’s Tire American 200 at Rockingham Speedway and simply leaned up against the pit wall. Despite winning top rookie honors and a $20,000 bonus, Herring was in no mood to celebrate. And his dejection was understandable.

With 10 laps remaining in the race, Herring was pulling away from Clay Rogers, inching ever closer to his first Hooters Pro Cup win. His faithful followers were on their feet with anticipation, and Herring was up on the wheel. Eight laps around Rockingham Speedway was all he needed for a breakout win.

by: Willie Whitewall

 

“I was on cruise control,” said Herring. “I knew we had it.”

Then, the unthinkable happened.

Herring was picked by a lapped car and Clay Rogers pounced, slipping to the high side as Herring jammed the brakes and made contact with the lapped machine. In the blink of an eye, Herring’s win bid was over, leaving him with a bittersweet taste in his mouth.

“Yeah, we accomplished our main goal, but we go to every race wanting to win,” said Herring. “Regardless if I’m a rookie or not, we want to win races. This team worked so hard and had such a great race going, it’s disappointing not to win.”

Though Herring failed to pick up a win in his rookie season, his freshman campaign was pretty solid.

The Benson, N.C., driver posted two runner-up finishes and seven top-10s. The only time Herring finished outside the top-15 all season was due to mechanical failures or accidents. But what the stats don’t show is that Herring and Ricky Benton Racing were one of the fastest cars at every track this season.

“I’m real excited with the way the RBR team ran this year,” said Herring. “Mike Hester [crew chief] deserves a lot of credit. This team has worked their butts off and given me great racecars and real good pit stops all year. I really wanted to win, but we’ll take rookie of the year.”

Herring’s second-place finish pushed him to fourth in the overall standings. In the 12-year history of the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year program, only Jeff Agnew (1998), Brian Vickers (2000) and Benny Gordon (2003) have finished better than fourth in the overall standings during their rookie seasons.